It was all heads to Millennium Forum on Sunday last for 7.30pm. The annual production from Stage Beyond was set to show. As with previous shows, I knew this would be a great one.
Stage Beyond is an award-winning Theatre Company for adults with learning and developmental disabilities. They offer professional accredited OCN arts training in a variety of disciplines. Their aim is to encourage self-esteem, sociability and life skills. They do this and more with their drama and Sunday night showcased just what amazing work Stage Beyond does do.
It was curtain up at 7.30pm. The Memory Detective was underway. We were immediately in a retirement home somwhere in Derry. The stage was filled with this wonderful cast and they immediately drew us, the audience, into their world. Grace Campbell was searching for her memories. Throughout the show she searched in dance halls, shirt factories and childhood streets, looking for her lost love. But alas, Grace needed help. She was unable to find these memories alone. And so she hired the memory detective. What followed was a fun-filled play with songs, laughter and yes, some smooching.
The play had us laughing out loud, and it had us wiping a tear. The humour was very Derry and very contemporary. But then so was the theme at the core – memory. In the modern world so many have suffered with memory loss and we could all resonate at times with Grace. It really did tug at the heart-strings.
But, with the brilliant writing of Ronan Carr, we were immediately distracted from those heart-felt emotions to much laughter. And what better laughter than those ‘cleaners.’ No-one wants to see those cleaners coming…..not now…not ever….
We even had the pleasure of such musical company as Roy Orbison, Jim Reeves and Ruby Murray. Wonderful entertainment to help find the memories lost to Grace.
But above all else, what stood out was a fabulous cast. It would be unfair to say one excelled over the other. Such was the competence and consistency of this group and team work. Everyone played their part on stage and everyone won our hearts on the night. The actors and actresses of Stage Beyond allowed us all to stop and think about life and the very importance of living in the ‘here and now’. They invited us to remember that memories are of such importance. And they invited us to appreciate the life we all have in the ‘here and now.’ Excellent acting from everyone at Stage Beyond took place on that Derry stage last Sunday night. And not forgetting the excellent music provided on the night from The Tuned In Band.
This would be a wonderful project to see tour and bring this show to other audiences who would most certainly appreciate it as much as we did. One standing ovation just doesn’t seem enough. And it was a standing ovation well deserved.